The simple answer to this question is yes, you absolutely can plan your own funeral. Furthermore, this is not a rare query, with more and more people wanting to have a greater say over when, how and where their funeral takes place. You can even make a plan for what you’d like to happen to your ashes, assuming you are not planning for them to be buried, choosing from a range of urns, keepsakes and memorials.
Planning a funeral
It’s not that long ago that the job of planning a funeral was the preserve of the funeral director in consultation with the deceased person’s family. Skip back a generation or two and few people would have made much, if any, provision for, or plans for their own funeral. Even a few years ago it was still taboo to discuss death or funerals and the format remained very traditional.
Wills and prepaid funerals, introduced by the likes of the Co-Op, are the main catalysts for making people think about their wishes and (more importantly) communicating them to someone else.
Today, it’s not uncommon for the funeral directors we work with to meet with people to plan funerals up to two or three decades before they will be required. In fact, recent research* shows that in 2021, 66% of people made provisions specifically to pay for their funeral before they passed away, many of which were associated to specific plans.
Making your own decisions before you die
There are lots of factors that encourage people to plan their own funeral. For many, it will be financial, and specifically not wishing to leave a burden on their loved ones, but for others, it’s about ‘doing it their way’ and ensuring their final interaction with their friends and family is reflective of how they lived their life.
As well as ensuring your funeral becomes a very personal affair, making plans and provision before you die is a very generous act. It’s not just the financial burden on your loved ones but also the emotional impact it will have. Whether anticipated or not, your passing will be difficult for your family and friends and so knowing that all the arrangements have been taken care of, or that your loved ones can rely on a clear set of instructions will make this challenging time infinitely easier. It will also allow them more opportunity to grieve and offers a chance to appreciate the occasion in itself, safe in the knowledge that it properly echoes your personality.
Prepaid funerals and funeral payment plans
As the research shows, we’re all taking a greater interest in planning and paying for our own funerals. With the average cost of a basic funeral in the UK expected to top £5,000 by 2026, it’s no wonder that many people want to become more organised. But what’s interesting to note is how the type and cost of a funeral is changing. As a nation we’re moving away from burials (the most expensive form of funeral). Also, traditional cremations with an accompanied service; are coming under pressure from the relatively new concept of direct cremations where there is little or no accompanied service. Not only do direct cremations cost around one-third of that of a burial, but they also allow the funeral to be focussed on the memorial, the sharing of ashes and the celebration of life, rather than the central thread of death and loss.
How do I begin planning my own funeral?
Funeral directors remain key to the process of planning a funeral. Each one has the knowledge, skills, connections and experience to ensure that all takes place as you wish. But there’s nothing wrong with shopping around and finding someone that you believe will help you create the occasion you want to create. Before meeting any funeral director, make a note of your wishes, however outlandish or crazy they may seem, and take with you to discuss. You may also feel it’s appropriate to involve a family member or trusted friend too, so they know what you want and are aware of your plans. There are a range of guides and resources online, so a little online research can help too. And there are even a few blogs from people who have gone through the process themselves, which can be really useful and informative.
*Sunlife Insurance Cost of Dying Report. https://www.sunlife.co.uk/funeral-costs/